Excerpts: When the Davidson Bubble Bursts

Bridget Lavender ’18

When members of our community return from studying abroad, we want to hear that they loved it, and want to go back, and had the best time. For me, these things are true. For many, they are true. But, it’s important to acknowledge that abroad isn’t magically the best time of your life simply because it is in a different country. And even if it was the best time of your life, there is room in that conversation for the things that may not have been perfect. Sometimes bad things happen. These can be huge, scary things, or they can be some little things adding up, or somewhere in the middle.

Whether you studied abroad in the past, you are planning on it in the future, you are currently studying abroad on Davidson’s campus, or you are supporting others, you are not alone. There are people at Davidson who have your back. When we come together as a community to speak out, we can change the discourse on campus. We can have the conversations about how abroad was amazing, while also acknowledging that sometimes I broke down crying, or had to be on guard for creepy men. We can acknowledge that the issues of sexual assault and loneliness and depression and violence and hate, which exist on this campus as well, are present in students’ lives away from Davidson.

When The Davidson Bubble Bursts was founded in 2015. Each year, members of the community submit narratives about challenges they faced while abroad, adding to the discourse on mental health, sex and sexuality, substance abuse issues, sexual violence, and other important issues. When The Davidson Bubble Bursts’ primary goal is to create a support system so we can create a safer, healthier experience for those who have studied abroad in the past, those currently having abroad experiences, and those who will go abroad in the future.

It has been an honor to serve on the planning committee of the event since 2016, and I hope that all Davidson students consider attending this year’s event at 7 PM on March 26th, in Lilly Gallery. Below, you will find excerpts from past submissions that illustrate the importance of the event and the space to share these stories:

“In that regard, I don’t even know if this is specifically an abroad experience. This sort of thing could easily happen, it has happened, on this campus. When I think abroad, I don’t think of this. I think friendly strangers on the subway, and glühwein at Christmas markets. I think learning how to knit and exploring abandoned buildings and flea market brooches and my host brother and indie clubs and my favorite café, Cucuma. I guess the difference is that here, I have this microphone. And a whole audience of people who I can trust, with friends who love me, and strangers who don’t know me but love me anyway. I’ve got a safe space, a support system, a platform for conversation. I’ve got a great big community and a ton of resources to help me along that path to processing. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”

“Obviously, in the grand scheme of things being called homophobic and misogynistic slurs is not so bad. It could have been a much worse encounter, but it still affected me. Going to Copenhagen was still the best decision of my life and a wonderful experience in terms of exploring my sexuality and overall acceptance. I wanted to share my story just to show that no matter how progressive the place may be, bigotry still exists everywhere. No matter how much the left tries to idolize Scandinavian countries, all governments and societies have their flaws and we can’t simply gloss over them.”

“When I envisioned going abroad, my first thoughts were not those of where I wanted to travel, or what I wanted to study. My thoughts, my anxieties, were: Where was the closest gym? When would I go to the gym? What kind of food did they sell in their grocery stores? I had been struggling with an eating disorder for six years at this time…I had a choice to make. Continue the way I was living, and go abroad, accepting that I would miss out on experiences, friendships, and delicious food; OR get help….I can tell you for certain, if I did not go to intensive, residential treatment before going abroad, I wouldn’t have lasted the semester. I would have been on a flight home within the first month. I can look back and say I enjoyed my time abroad because of the actions I took before going. I was in no way recovered or cured, but I had a toolbox of skills to help me along the way. Before leaving for Denmark, I found an English-speaking therapist who specialized in eating disorders to ensure I did not slip back in to old behaviors…I had been in therapy before, but I can tell you all, that going to treatment for an entire summer was the best decision I have made in my life….I encourage anyone who is suffering from an eating disorder, and exercise disorder, or any other mental illness, whether they are going abroad or not, to take this time, take one of your last summer vacations to seek treatment. It’s not easy, but you wont regret it.”

“The lesson I want every single person in this room to take away from this, is to trust your instincts. You alone can judge a situation for yourself. No one else can do that. It is okay to tell your friend or friends that you don’t feel okay or comfortable in a situation, and if they are actually your friends, they will immediately choose your comfort. I wish I had advocated for myself. Next time.”

 

Bridget Lavender ’18 is a Communication Studies major and Gender and Sexuality Studies minor from Greensboro, North Carolina. Contact her at brlavender@davidson.edu

 

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